Archive | December 2014

The Quick and the Undead, Kimberly Raye

 

The Quick and the Undead, Kimberly Raye
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
This sounded a fun read, a paranormal with some humour – Vampire Cowboys! It was fun, made me smile, but it was a kind of gentle, subtle humour most of the while mixed in with a bit of vampire trickery, and set in a Western old time world.
I wasn’t wholly won over by the characters, Riley had some history but though it had affected her adversely for the last three years, I just didn’t really get that sense from her that it was affecting her life and emotions as much as I’d have expected. Similarly the vampires, they each had a slightly different angle, but somehow they seemed a little flat. Though this book concentrated on Boone we met the others, and I’d have liked to see a bit more interaction with them. It kind of feels superficial at the moment, as if we’re just glossing over their surface and underneath they’ve real depth – and I want that depth now…
Still, its early days and first novels in a series are notoriously difficult, when the author has the difficulty of introducing a new group of characters, setting the place and stories for future episodes and keeping the reader interested. Its a fine balance. I found it slow to start but once it picked up it held my interest, had a couple of sensual, sexy interludes, and a plotline that’s going to develop later through the series. Its got enough content to hook me into future reads, and maybe on a re reading I’d rate it higher but for now its an OK read, a good one with potential.
Stars: Three and a half – its a decent read and I think shows potential for a series with something a bit different to it. As ever though I’m just one reader and everyone will have a different view.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

You’re So Fine, Kieran Kramer

You’re So Fine, Kieran Kramer
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
My first book by this author so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I got the romance I love, and some of the drama, though that’s a little low key for me, but I also got a male lead with fabulous Southern charm, a female lead with wit and spark and Henry – the most wonderful little boy anyone could wish for. He was a real star, so sweet, so intelligent and forgiving, and in some ways old beyond his years, and then he’d say something that brought home to me that really he was just a little boy, wanting things all kids should have, people who love him, a stable and happy home, and lots of fun in life. That’s really not too much to ask is it?
Still, poor Henry has just Lacey, and her mum and stepfather, who don’t really approve of the adoption. She’s still trying to win their love but its a tough struggle, and I feel like she’s someone who just wants everyone to see the best in her, who’ll bend over backwards to help people – as she has in the past – and she’s just been taken for granted. I’d have liked to know more about how she and Henry came together ( maybe that’s in another of Kieran’s books?) I love Lacey, ( yes and Lucy, I loved watching that when I was a kid) and she’s trying so hard to make a home for Henry, and be the perfect parent. She’s not had much example though from her own mum and stepfather….Then Beau drops into their life and though the first meeting doesn’t go well, its not long before he’s charmed his way into Lacey and Henry’s life. Henry adore him – and who wouldn’t? He’s got the charm adults love, he’s a really genuinely pleasant man, and he’s fun with Henry….treats him as a peer, or perhaps its that Henry treats him as a child, and brings out the fun side of Beau at a time when people treat him too often as just the film star he is, and not Beau the man. Lacey and Henry don’t do that and he appreciates it, people who see him for what he is. Its not long before they are closer…and much closer, though Lacey puts a line down sexually which she won’t cross. She knows Beau will go when the film is over, only a few weeks away, and she needs stability for Henry, and wants to protect her own heart.
The film crew are great too, from Mike the director, a kind man, his young twins Carol and Bob who become fast friends with Henry. They’re like a tiny three Musketeers with an honorary fourth in Dickie, Mike’s father in law, who delights in stories and lies and is adored by the kids.
Its a beautiful romance, not angsty and full of heart stopping drama, but one that creeps up slowly sucking the reader into another world, twisting and turning as other plot lines creep in and secrets come out. Its a really enjoyable read with a perfect satisfying ending. Its the sort of read I’ll pick up when I want a reminder of how people can be good, how there are genuinely nice types around ( though there’s a few nasty b itches here too) and I just want to relax and slide into a world of sunshine, beaches and happiness.
Stars: four and a half, it doesn’t quite have enough for five from me but is close.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers.

Love Bites, Rachel K. Burke

Love Bites: HarperImpulse New Adult

 
Love Bites, Rachel K. Burke
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance.
Well, I adored Sound Bites, and was hoping for something similar – but it’s a very different read. It’s not got the angst and drama usually found in NA reads, but is more the story of Justine growing up as an adult and finding herself. Its told in alternating parts from her past, when she first meets David, her best friend’s boyfriend, and the present. I found that a bit frustrating at times, as I’d just get into a section and then it would change time.
I was expecting more of when she met David, and their time together, but in fact we see their first meeting, the weekend when they finally give in, and then nothing more except that they’ve split and she’s heartbroken. What I really liked was the way she learned about herself and how she’s acting, and whether that makes her attract unsuitable men or is it just a co-incidence. I enjoyed seeing her friends, and learning how she repaired her friendship with Renée eventually. I felt for her at times, things just seemed to happen on the boyfriend front, and after all who can predict how a relationship will work out, if a man really isn’t married, or has a girlfriend if he doesn’t say. Its not the kind of first meeting question usually! I did have a hard time when she says she’s had 14 past relationships and been in love with them all – she’s only in her twenties, and to me love isn’t something you fall in and out of like a revolving door, but a far deeper emotion…Still, I was happy at how she finally learned to look at herself, learn from her mistakes and find her way to a happier and more satisfying life.
I missed the intense drama I was expecting though,  so although this is a perfectly well written book and I’m sure with have lots of devotees, for me its just a three star. I needed more in the romance line, more drama and satisfying though it was seeing her mature it wasn’t really what I want in a novel.
Stars: Three, interesting but ultimately not what I’d reread.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Devlin Witch books 1-4

 

The Devlin Witch books 1-4
I reviewed these as individual books some time ago, and now Bernadette has publsihed them as one book which I think is a great idea. I love to read series back to back so this works well for me. Stupidly I don’t seem to have kept the review from book one but the next three are below as I read them.

Devils Shore Bernadette Walsh

Arc supplied by publisher
This is the second in a series of books about the Devlin family, I hadn’t read the first but it was easy to follow the tale regardless.. Orla doesn’t subscribe the family witch theory and the shadow of the mountains that has claimed the first born daughter for generations. When her mother dies she still stands up against her destiny as a witch despite visits from her dead grandmother. A promotion for her husband means the family moves to America and she believes the curse on the family is far behind her but her witch powers grow stronger and make her feel unsettled. Joining what she thinks is a yoga group she discovers its actually a group of witches who have felt her power and want her to join the. Forced to acknowledge the need to control herself after a series of “accidents “ in the home she agrees and meets Simon, a delicious, attractive, sexy male witch. She loves her husband and family but she feels an uncontrollable attraction to Simon. Like the other witches though things and people are not as they seem and Orla is drawn into a dangerous confrontation with the Demon that has controlled her family for so many generations.

The story is compelling, characters seem real and we see how circumstances take Orla down a road she doesn’t really want to travel. At times the plot verges on a horror one – there’s certainly eroticism, but of the dangerous kind not the sexy romantic sort. It reaches a gripping conclusion and the ends tie up neatly with a clever tie in for the next book suggested by subsequent events.

If you’re looking for erotic romance stop there – this book doesn’t have that, but what it does have is a story that races along full of pace and character, magic and danger, witches and demons. The solutions to the problems are written in a totally believable way ( OK – I know we have to suspend belief for a fantasy/supernatural novel but the plots and solutions still need to be achievable – not the often used cop out of a dream or a new power suddenly produced by hero or heroine)

Stars: 4 for me – its well written and edited, priced well for the length at 218kb for £1.28 but I prefer something with a lighter romantic feel, but this novel was quite dark in places. Its easy to read and follow though and well thought out so if you like your books a just little darker but not in the “horror” genre this fits the bill.

Devil’s Daughter Bernadette Walsh

Book three in an unusual series – its fantasy/paranormal with elements of horror thrown in – not too deep though thankfully……! regular readers will recall my weak head for horror…..
Well, Orla and her family are back on the mountain – and life is relatively normal. Her husband seems a bit distant but then I felt he didn’t really understand Orla right from the start and in this book he still is trying to ignore her talent as a witch and protector. Orla meets Fiona – a slightly strange girl, who seems very like her mother to look at, and things develop from there. Simon is back – that was good, though he was really evil to Orla much of it was under dark magical influence and he’s a great “bad boy” hero, too good not to be resurrected in some way. He knows Rosemary is really his daughter and not Orla’s husbands and has come back to take part in her upbringing. Last time Orla saw him he was in a wheelchair and without power but somehow he’s gained strong magic back. He persuades her she needs his help to fight what’s happening in the mountain.

Once again we’ve a tale of mystery and intrigue, magic and mayhem and danger to the inhabitants of the mountain. Bernadette carefully weaves together innocuous incidents until they become part of the wider story. I enjoyed meeting Orla again, still felt her husband wasn’t supportive and wondered what they ever had in common and was so glad to see Simon was back – need a few bad guys in a story, except this time the bad guys aren’t who you first think. I loved the way the tale unfolds, drawing the reader in slowly and making us wonder where its going next. I really didn’t expect the ending that Bernadette gave us – and loved it, it wrapped everything up in a very satisfying way. Its been a great series, very different from the vampires and shifters that make up so much of the fantasy/paranormal genre (even though I love those its good to have variety)

as always its well written and edited and at £2.04 for 192kb its not a bad price. Its quite a short novel – I don’t have the number of pages but I’d guess at around 100-120. I prefer longer books usually but as part of a series to read back to back I’m happy to read shorter ones a s much of the world and character building is already done so we can get straight into the story. This like the others is definitely in my keepers file.

Stars: well deserved four stars – if it was longer I’d have gone for five, that’s my personal preference – a good long book to get stuck into, but lots of readers prefer shorter reads that they can fit into their daily routine and still have time to finish the book.

The Devlin Witch. Bernadette Walsh.

Arc supplied by publisher.

I’d thought the last book was the end for the series but thankfully Bernadette has given us more from the Devlin family. I loved the past books, and the characters were such strong people. It grew more on me as the series went on and reading this I was trying to fit the new characters into the past I knew. It came together in time and the link ups were there. The magic too was something different, not just sweet sparkles and magic wands, fairies daintily casting spells but something much darker, with elemental creatures claiming people to their hidden lives, and the Devlin Legacy being one of dark magic and tragedy.
As always the magic comes at a cost, and here Bernadette makes magic and the search for power have strong repercussions. We’ve seen in past books how the Devlin Legacy impacts upon families, sometimes with tragic ends. And the magic it contains on the mountain and the elementals within has a very strong, dark influence taking over people’s lived and wants. This time it begins in US with Anne Marie and Rita’s granny whose linked to the Legacy dying, but rather than old age she’s attacked in her own house. Rita is desperate for a baby, Anne Marie wants love, and both so far have been unsuccessful. In the midst of what seem like ordinary lives with everyday problems their grans’ death changes everything. Sorting out gran’s home they find the ancestral Book of Magic and it takes them to Ireland, to the Mountain and enmeshes them in all the danger from past books once more. We meet Simon Gardiner again, still on his quest for power, find out about Oral and Rosemary her and Simons’ daughter, meet some of the aunts and cousins, and Rita and Anne Marie get woven into another web of deceit and conspiracy in the search for power. Being a Devlin witch carries a high price and brings danger – is it worth it?
Bernadette weaves a tale of Magic and mayhem, creatures from the supernatural, murders, attacks, and constant danger. Is being the next Devlin witch worth that? Rita is certainly interested as are the Irish cousins, Anne Marie doesn’t think so but gets caught up by Slaithenoair, ( I think that’s right) a type of mud elemental, and all the weird and dangerous things associated with him. Whether she wants him or not she faces a hard battle to escape. Its a welcome change from the fluffy, light, sparkling magic we so often see, and good to remind readers that any sort of power can carry a heavy cost to it – whether magical or not. Magic and the search for the power it wields can bring out the worst in people, and we certainly see that here.
Its a great wrap up to the series – but who knows when the Devlin powers are going to come over Bernadette once more and bring her into writing more stories 🙂 They’re certainly something interesting and a welcome difference to what we so often read. There’s no sweet, sickly romances, no loving, protective shape shifters, witches or sorcerers, but just dark, deep, dangerous magic wrought hard from people, and carrying a sometimes tragic cost. I haven’t pricing info yet, and its quite a short novel at just 123 pages but its packed full with only words relevant to the story, no side ventures into fillers and padding.
Stars: Loved this series and the way its so different – the edge of darkness it contains is so realistic and certainly keeps reader on the edge of knowing what will happen, holding breath to see who escapes and who is trapped. I’m going for the full five.

Three the Hard Way Sydney Croft

Three the Hard Way (ACRO Book 7)

 

Three the Hard Way Sydney Croft
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre: Gay & Lesbian, Mystery & Thrillers

Well, I hold my hand up – its my fault this book wasn’t quote what I expected. Its book seven in a series and I hadn’t realised that….my bad, I should have researched further.
Its easy enough to work out what’s gone before and what’s happening now, and that sounds a fun and interesting series. This focuses on the three guys meeting up over just a few days and for me I needed more time, this short interval just didn’t give me enough story. It was a hot, sexy interlude in what I suspect is a series I’d really enjoy, about secret agencies and people with extraordinary paranormals abilities. As it was though with them being enemies to lovers over just a few days was a step too far for me, it didn’t feel realistic and though it was a good book, a decent read it wasn’t one I really was taken with or that I’d re read.
Stars: Three, a good book if you follow the series.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Terms of Surrender, A Rocky Mountain Contemporary Romance, Sheila Seabrook

Terms of Surrender, A Rocky Mountain Contemporary Romance, Sheila Seabrook
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
I was really looking forward to this, had read the sample and it looked perfect for me. Still, some you win, some you don’t and for me this was a wrong choice. I didn’t hate it, it was an ok book, but the story as it played out just didn’t spark my imagination and take me into the story as I’d thought it would.
Harley was a pleasant lady, still grieving from the loss of her twin sister. She’s long had feelings for Gage, but he’s made it clear nothing will happen. He seems to see her as fragile when in reality she’s a very strong character. Gage’s brother was married to Harley’s twin and they have twin 4 year old daughters. Its only been two months but its clear to Harley that he’s struggling with them, and drinking to excess. He’s changed so much from the person he was before her sister died. Then there’s his and Gage’s parents…They’ve bad problems too.
the book raises a number of issues, death, grief and how to cope, along with a very important one of something so many families keep hidden, and yet which causes such terrible repercussions if not dealt with properly. Harley takes over with the twins when she feels they’re in danger, and they’re all staying at Gage’s house. Slowly she’s breaking down his reserve until something drastic happens, and everything seems to coalesce at once. Can they get through together or is this the end.
Well, I liked Harley but wondered how she was able to take so much time away from her job. I’d have assumed she’d have been helping more with the twins given they were supposed to be so close but she let their dad’s feelings keep her away. I thought Gage was clearly hot, and yet obsessed about what he was hiding to the point of idiocy. He’s never had problems so far that way, so why did he think he would? I found his brothers deterioration a bit hard to believe, but then grief does do odd things to people so it’s possible he could change that rapidly. The twins, for four years old they were far above their years in many ways, and in many of the things they said. Given their mum has just died and their dad has changed so much I was surprised they didn’t seem to have problems with that. They didn’t seem to have school, nursery or friends either, just this narrow, nuclear family. It just felt a little too unreal to me, and I think that was my main problem, the believability of it. Its a shame because the problems raised were very real, and could have made a great read – still, as ever I’m just one person and others will love this book. Horses for courses and all that…
Stars: sadly its a two, just didn’t cut it for me.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers.

Secrets and Charms, Lou Harper

Secrets and Charms

 

Secrets and Charms, Lou Harper
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
Genre: GLBT.
A slightly unexpected book; as well as the romance there was a gentle who dunnit type mystery. It gave it almost a “Miss Marple” type feel in the slightly old fashioned way the drama unravelled to begin with, and then almost moved into comedic realms as the secrets were released. The mystery didn’t add to the book for me, but did provide a gentle backstory for the romance to unfold. I didn’t dislike this book but I didn’t get that – Wow, must re read this – feel from it either
Olly, he was cute and who couldn’t like him. One of those unfailingly polite and helpful characters, and even when Rich was being a total rude jerk he didn’t respond. All that of course meant that Rich then had guilty feelings, and realised he was downright rude to him, and his sister soon sets him straight – apologise, now! Its clear that straight boy Rich isn’t quite as straight as he wants to be, and when we learn more about his background its evident why he’s repressed any feelings of attraction to men. Olly though is something special, attracted to Rich, and sees through his bluster, and pretty soon they’re indulging in some hot and heavy moments. I’d have liked a slower build up – its that simmering attraction that has the magic for me, and when people get together quickly I feel a bit sad – I wanted more build up – it doesn’t matter what sex the couples are – its the slow start that I love.
Anyway, once they get together Rich is still trying to convince himself its a one off…still scared of seeing what he really is, feeling what he really feels. That’s kind of sad, but in reality I suspect its very commonplace. Given there’s little real interaction with other people though, and certainly not those who’d be shocked, it kind of negates his being “in the closet”. It’s really only his own mind that’s there…
The mystery, like I said its a strange feel to it, they really do stumble about treading where angels fear….and doing the opposite to what common-sense says. The blackmail issue was weird, and wouldn’t have worked I think if treated any other way than the two bumbling, amateur sleuths did. Although its kind of thin it suits the feel of the book, and the characters of the two men. They fear for Rich sister’s reputation but don’t want to upset her, and they end up making matters worse despite their good intentions.  Its not a heart racing, can’t out down book, but one for those who want a gentle, easy read, something a bit light and fluffy, and aren’t too worried about the reality of blackmail, murders and police investigations…for me it was an ok book, not one I’d re read.
Stars: three.
ARC supplied via Netgalley and publishers

All That’s Bright: A Romantic Holiday Collection, Courtney Cole, Fisher Amelie

All That's Bright: A Romantic Holiday Short Story Collection

 

All That’s Bright: A Romantic Holiday Collection, Courtney Cole, Fisher Amelie
Genre: Contemporary romance

Review from jeannie zelos book reviews

I love Pax and Mila so jumped at the chance to catch up with them. I’m not usually a short story reader but sometimes one fits in nicely with what spare time we have. Xmas being busy this collection is perfect for when you’ve a spare 20 minutes or so. Fisher Amelie is an author new to me but I enjoyed the story about Spencer and Cricket even though I didn’t know them. There’s a couple of excerpts too from other books included and its a great way to get a flavour of the writing style of two talented authors.

Stars: Five, Two sweet catch up stories make it a fun read.

ARC supplied via author

More Than Music, Elizabeth Briggs

More Than Music (Chasing The Dream Book 1)

More Than Music, Elizabeth Briggs
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Romance, New Adult

This book is a perfect example of what I love about the New Adult Genre, a fun, easy to read story, characters the reader can love ( and hate) and some solid drama.
Maddie, oh Maddie, has has the hots for her good friend Kyle’s big brother Jared for ages. Maddie’s the good girl, works hard, and has a steady music career lined up. Secretly though she loves her guitar, and has dreams of a rock star life. That’s all fine until Jared’s band is in need of a new member very quickly, as their Bassist has left after Jared did his usual thing, had a one night stand and she wanted more. Hector and Kyle are furious with him, he’s hit too close to home this time and they’re in danger of being unable to audition for the reality show The Sound. Maddie is looking round the new studio at Kyle’s invite, and can’t resist picking up Jared’s guitar and playing. No-one is around to hear her so she lets rips, gives it everything and then is shocked to find Jared is there. Of course next day the problem with the bassist crops up and Jared suggests Maddie. Kyle isn’t happy – there’s a reason he’s kept Maddie away from Jared for the past three years, and now they will be very close, but they’ve no time to find someone else with the audition being so close. It’s persuade Maddie or drop out and try next year.
Anyway – that’s the start and of course despite assuring the others they’ll stay away from each other it proves harder to do…

Well, its a great fun read, with a great description of their TV experiences and the competition. Its not all smooth sailing, more a rough, stormy ride and I loved the way their first experiences were so tough, with the promised help not happening. Then there’s Lacey, one of the other contestants who’s clearly out for revenge after Jared turned her down and she blames Maddie…I love that b itchy stuff, and lots of jealousy. Maddie and Jared find each other too attractive to live up to their promises, but for the band and for the show they have to hide their feelings….Secrets – we know what happens with them though don’t we, they always sneak out at just the wrong moment. There’s also a tie in to Maddie’s background that makes this part interesting, and adds to the feeling of reality about what eventually happened.

I really enjoyed the story, I felt as if I was there with the band, and they were such a good bunch I wanted things to go well for them. I liked knowing more about the other bands too, and seeing how motivation can make people do things they wouldn’t usually do. Its not just a bland romance but one full of problems and pitfalls, happiness and heartbreak, drama and despair. As well as rooting for Maddie and Jared I was rooting for the band’s success on the show too.
Its a decent length at just over 300 pages and that lets the plots and characters be fully expanded, and gives me the feeling I understand them and what’s happening. Its a read I really enjoyed and I’m looking forward to more from the series.

Stars: Five, its a great solid read, good fun, though one I’m unlikely to re read.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher.

Marked, Zanetti, Rebecca

 

Marked, Zanetti, Rebecca
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
When I think back to the beginning, when the characters were a small group and so many had yet to join them, I realise how far this series has gone. I’m sad to see the end of it ( but of course there’s the potential for more from the next generation…) but I’m glad too – so often authors pull extra books from a popular series, and it just doesn’t work. Stop at the top and that’s what Rebecca has done here, and it leaves us with a series where each book is genuine, a good read and not a padded out extra.
The danger they’ve been battling throughout the series is coming to a head, and the whole world itself is threatened. Though this book focuses on Janie and Zane, there are updates on everyone else too and we see the whole group involved in the struggle for peace.
All the Supernaturals are in peace talks, and as a human Janie is vulnerable – she knows she needs to be there but her parents aren’t happy. As the Chosen One though she sees it as her duty to attend and insists. Its difficult getting heads/ representatives of the various groups together, and very dangerous – who know who will stick to their word and who will seize the opportunity to forge ahead. Zane gets word through his sources that the Demons are planning an attack on Janie. He’s part Demon, nephew of the current leader and expected to take part in her demise. His uncle wants her dead, and expects Zane to obey him.  Zane’s known her through their shared dreams all her life, but now they’re meeting for real and she’s in danger of her life. Zane isn’t having that so takes steps to save her, putting his brothers and mother in danger so he needs to move swiftly to save them too at cost to himself.
Its a real adventure book, where they face danger after danger, and the attacks come not just singly but against all of them, and its a race against time to save everyone. I didn’t really enjoy some of this part, I’m not really happy about people getting skills/finding out essential info (it’s hard to explain without giving things away) just at the crucial moment. I don’t mind the occasional time, but it seems too frequent in this book for me. That’s a small crit though, the rest as always races along, and of course has the usual hot and steamy sex scenes. Zane and Janie together are –wow- perfect. I kind of feel sorry for Kalin, I know he’s cruel, kills for fun etc, and yet when we’ve seen him in the dream world we’ve seen a different side to him, and he honestly believes he and Janie should be together. I sort of get the feeling love and kindness haven’t featured much in his life, and that reflects in the person he’s become. Zane hasn’t had much love and kindness either though, and he’s become someone who’s a killer when its needed but doesn’t do it for fun, and has a real tender side.
I enjoyed this episode, it tied everything off neatly and some parts (Kalin) actually had me with a lump in my throat…after all the build up it was a perfect ending, leaving me knowing how everyone had fared. Sometimes series end and I think “ what about xyz?” but everyone I can think of is accounted for here and that way I feel satisfied.
Stars: Four and a half, dropped half for those last minute extra powers that I don’t like
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers.

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